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Thinking for others
In 1922, when Gandhiji was in Yeravada jail, the jail superintendent Major Johns felt that the floor of the house where Gandhiji was accommodated, was low and that is why it was rather humid. So, he thought of shifting Gandhiji to the place, where European prisoners were kept. The floor of that building was high. It had a verandah and nice compound with flowers. Major Johns put forward proposal for a shift, Gandhiji agreed to his proposal and the place was changed.
In the evening, Gandhiji spoke to his colleague Shankerlal Banker, “We should go back to our old rooms. We have not done the right thing to come here. The superintendent has the power to transfer the prisoners, but in my case he may not be having such a power. My place would have been decided by the Government and he cannot change it. He has certainly made a mistake and if the government comes to know of this, he would be in trouble. It is my duty to save him.”
When this matter was put forward to the superintendent, he was not convinced right away. He stated that as the superintendent, he had full authority and if the Government did not like his work and interfered, he would resign.
Gandhiji told him, “You have such an authority as you talk about, but that is only regarding the general prisoners. That authority actually may not be there in my case. So, you may move us to our previous place.”
Both were adamant on their own belief. At the end Gandhiji told him, “I can understand your feelings and I also appreciate it. It is better if we only know and find out what the Government is willing to do. So, for the time being, you can take us back and you should talk to the Home Minister. If you find our doubt to be baseless, then again you can take us back.”
Major John was happy on such a proposal from Gandhiji, and he transferred them to the old place.
He then came back after three-four days. He started thanking Gandhiji for his far-sightedness and the kind care that he showed for him, and said, “What you were saying came out to be true. It has been decided by the Government to keep you in the same place as earlier. If I had kept you there in the new place without consulting the Government, I would have definitely been in trouble. In a way, I am also a rigid person and if the Government had violated my decision, I would have had to resign. I am very grateful to you for your right advice.”